The History of the Concept of Security

The concept of security is often treated as a simple and self-evident one where conceptual struggles are over the modifiers and specifications - national security, collective security, human security, environmental security, etc. But the meaning of security as such has changed radically in the more than 2.000 years since its Latin emergence. Meanings have varied between positive and negative, objective and subjective, as well as state, individual and other  ‘referent objects'. Exploring the history of the concept serves amongst other things to heighten awareness of the particularity of understandings assumed today, but also political imprints from structures and projects of different ages will become visible. In particular, the project will explore the emergence in the early 20th Century of security as a key value in society, the eruption in the 1940s of ‘national security' as a key concept in foreign affairs, and the possibility that the specific structure of security since then was shaped by a transferral of meaning from a raison d'etat concept running out of legitimacy with the democratisation of foreign policy. The project serves in the context of CAST and securitisation theory to historicise the particular security speech act. 

Ole Wæver was the primary researcher on the project.


Ole Wæver
Phone: +45 35 32 34 31